I'm trying to figure out why I feel this way. That's usually a pretty dangerous statement to make, because I like dealing with surface pain: scrapes and cuts and bruises. When you ask the why of the hurt, you're digging deeper. And deep pain, so good at hiding, can hurt like a mother when extricated. Think barbed fish hook. It may hurt, but to tear it out means leaving a gaping hole. In which scenario is the damage greater?
Okay: overdramatic intro? Check. Now on with what I was trying to say before.
I applied today for an apartment. It's in Matthews. I'd be roommates with Melissa. And honestly, I'm' 25 years old. I've lived on my own before, and it's pretty much time for me to live on my own again. I've been craving my own personal space.
I feel super-hesitant and really apprehensive about it. Part of this is because of my debt. I owe $5,000 in school loans, which I'll have to start paying back in April. I owe about $800 in taxes. I owe $1,800 on my credit card, and I'm nearly up on my first year which means the interest will start soon. Total: $7,600. What do I have? $1,300 in savings and whatever's currently in my checking account. So funnel all my monthly income into paying rent and bills and groceries, and suddenly I'll be in debt forever. I hate being in debt. It sucks. Will I have to get a third job to survive this mess?
But that's not even the "deeper pain" thing I was talking about before. That's all surface stuff, obvious. What I really keep dwelling on, what I really hate about this whole situation is this: my cat.
Mr Paws loves it here, in the house in Botany Woods. Here he's an indoor-outdoor cat. He has me, his owner, to snooze with at night. He has the attention of all the others in the household: the gruff affection of my brother Wes, the cuddle times with Mom, the occasional TV nap with Dad. He is free yet claimed, adventurous yet safe, happy and loved. And I just keep thinking: "In one month, or maybe two or three, I'm going to mess all that up."
Because, yes, I'll move into this new place and having fun picking out furniture and decorating my own space and being on my own, etc etc. But what do I do with him? Do I bring him with me? He HATES being cooped up inside, but there's no way in hell I would ever let him be an outside cat in the middle of bustling Matthews: he'd get run over or taken away by someone else. Not happening. So do I keep him inside, subject him to the misery of being an indoor cat, with Pixel as his competitor/underling? Or do I leave him here at the house with the rest of my family? But how can I just leave?
Complicating matters is the fact that recently I've been listening constantly to the two Weakerthans songs about Virtue the Cat. Hearing about a cat with a crappy owner who's too caught up in their own depression to ever give the kind of love that poor animal deserves just makes me feel all the guiltier.
I just keep thinking: "I'm messing everything up."
And the deeper pain here is that I don't know who I'm messing things up for: Mr Paws, or me. Because I love it here. I love this house, and this yard, and this neighborhood. It's been mine for my whole life, or the parts that matter most to me at least. It's where I learned about magic and adventure, it's where I found most of my stories, it's where I dreamed dreams and scraped knees and had probably the best damn childhood a girl could ever ask for. My family is here. My whole life up to this point is here, in these walls, in this yard, in those trees I see through the window with their leaves fluttering in a faint breeze. And I'm going to give it all up to move to this new cookie cutter apartment in the middle of the commotion of a busy town: but not a town, really, a shopping center. A collision of shopping centers. It's new, alright, but there's no meaning in it. And I'm so desperately afraid, because when you leave something behind it's not yours anymore. It changes and moves on without you there. And I'm afraid that by leaving this home I've loved so long that I'll be banishing myself from it forever: that even when I come back again, it won't be the same anymore. And it'll be my own stupid fault for ever leaving to begin with.
There comes a part in every story where the hero must leave everything they've ever been comfortable with and head out into the unknown. Otherwise, there wouldn't be a story. I don't delude myself in thinking I am the hero of my own life, but I wonder if my time has come.
Am I messing everything up? Maybe. I still don't know what I'll do about Paws. I still don't know how I'm going to juggle all this money stuff. But somehow I'll manage. I can always manage the surface pain. Band-aids, ointment. It'll go away. But am I messing everything up? I keep thinking it: "I'm messing it all up."
Shut up brain. Stop panicking. It's not forever... just a year.